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Mindfulness on the go for remote health professionals

12 Dec 2023

In the busyness, and with the competing demands in our lives, it is essential to prioritise our physical health and wellbeing, writes Senior Psychologist, Therese Forbes. We are constantly bombarded with suggestions for what is required. “Drink 2 litres of water, exercise 30 minutes a day, sleep 8 hours, meditate 20 minutes, eat 5 veggies and 2 fruits, stretch often to prevent muscle tension, be patient with your partner and children… Oh, and be mindful.”

These mes­sages come to us from a vari­ety of sources such as media, well-mean­ing friends and fam­i­ly and social media posts. They can leave us feel­ing defi­cient because we are sim­ply not doing enough!

OK. Take three deep breaths and imag­ine your shoul­ders relax­ing with each out­ward breath.

Now, just as there are break­fasts to go and take­away meals that are aimed at the busy and time-poor, there are mind­ful­ness prac­tices that we can incor­po­rate into the nor­mal course of our day. In fact, the empha­sis of mind­ful­ness is on being, not doing. The beau­ty of mind­ful­ness to go is that it won’t take up extra time or become some­thing that you must place on your to-do list or become an expert at.

Remem­ber these tips are meant to be eas­i­ly incor­po­rat­ed into your day and they will make a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence to how you feel phys­i­cal­ly and men­tal­ly with the min­i­mum of effort. 

Sound good?

Great! Let’s step through some exam­ples of how sim­ply shift­ing your focus makes your expe­ri­ences rich­er and mean­ing­ful. Our ner­vous sys­tems love this stuff.

As you awak­en and before get­ting out of bed, bring to your mind a cou­ple of things that you are grate­ful for. Savour them and lux­u­ri­ate in the won­der­ful feel­ings they evoke.

While the ket­tle is boil­ing for that impor­tant cup of tea or cof­fee, watch your­self place the tea bag into the cup or the cof­fee into the plunger or machine. Take in the glo­ri­ous smells – stay in that moment for just a few extra sec­onds. Watch your­self pour in the hot water – what can you see/​hear/​smell? Notice if your mind wan­ders off and bring your­self back to the present moment.

Note: Your mind will typ­i­cal­ly want to hijack you at this point! It’s there say­ing great, about time you woke up – now let’s think about every­thing we need to achieve today”. Take no notice of it. We may not be able to switch it off com­plete­ly but what we can do is not buy into the thoughts.

Head­ing out the door for a walk or run? Notice the sky – the colour, the clouds or the ear­ly morn­ing light. If you are lucky enough to be at the beach, notice the sand and how it feels beneath your toes, the tiny pat­terns that have formed overnight and oth­er foot­steps per­haps. Feel the cool­ness or the lack of breeze, feel the qual­i­ty of the air on your skin. Hear the sounds – take a moment to lis­ten for any far­away sounds. Per­haps there is some traf­fic noise or birds off in the dis­tance or the sounds of qui­et rustlings in the under­growth. Look into the water and imag­ine the myr­i­ad of sea life that you can­not see but you know is there. Notice the pat­terns of the waves or the tide gen­tly lap­ping the shore.

Pho­to cred­it: Grig­or – stock​.adobe​.com

Be com­plete­ly in this expe­ri­ence for just a cou­ple of min­utes – enough so that you could lat­er recount the expe­ri­ence to a col­league or friend.

Sim­ply tak­ing your cof­fee into the gar­den or find­ing a sun­ny spot inside is great if you are not able to get out for a walk. Putting your­self in the envi­ron­ment where you can expe­ri­ence some of the ele­ments is like a pow­er boost for your day. If that is in your own back­yard, that is okay.

Maybe you need to get some chil­dren to school. Take the time to be ful­ly present with them, have a lit­tle joke or be sil­ly for a minute – rev­el in that hug or kiss goodbye.

Tak­ing some time to do YOUR life before you go into work is extra ben­e­fi­cial. Our jobs and pro­fes­sions are very impor­tant but we sim­ply can­not do our best work if we do not feel at our best.

See the work­place as anoth­er oppor­tu­ni­ty to prac­tise some mind­ful­ness to go’ by being ful­ly present when engag­ing in tasks, meet­ings and conversations.

Some of the ways to do this are:

  • Avoid mul­ti-task­ing – focus on one thing at a time if possible.
  • Prac­tise active lis­ten­ing by pay­ing full atten­tion to your col­league or patient. Real­ly con­nect with them.
  • Pay atten­tion to your sur­round­ings and any ten­sion in your body.
  • Con­scious­ly choose to take per­spec­tive and look at the big­ger pic­ture rather than sweat the small­er stuff if you find your­self being frustrated.
  • Cre­ate oppor­tu­ni­ties to light­en the mood if appropriate.

These sug­ges­tions will have the added ben­e­fit of improv­ing your focus and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty as well as enhanc­ing your well­be­ing and emo­tion­al intelligence.

We can all afford some mind­ful­ness to go’. It actu­al­ly doesn’t cost us any­thing – just a shift in our focus that fur­ther enhances our every­day experiences.

Yours in the present moment,

Therese Forbes
Bush Sup­port Line

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